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Math + Friends = Fun

Math + Friends = Fun

The Middle School Mathcounts team at USM is unique because it is coached by Upper School students. Participants are learning how to solve math problems in creative ways, while making new friends and having fun.

Middle School students participate in Math Counts.

Simrin Patel ’27 (left) and Mairin Jarvis Castellano ’25

When the bell rings to signify the end of the school day, Middle School students at USM have many options for how to spend their time. There are athletic teams, music lessons, robotics, plays and musicals, and even vegging out on the couch at home. But an inquisitive group of Middle School students prefer to spend their Monday afternoons practicing math—and having a great time in the process.

They’re part of USM’s Mathcounts team, a nationwide middle school mathematics competition designed to foster excitement through fun and engaging problems. USM’s team is unique because students, rather than adults, serve as the coaches. Mairin Jarvis Castellano ’25, Anjali George ’24, Anand George ’26, and Harini Tallam ’26 currently coach the Middle School students on the USM team. Jarvis Castellano and Anjali George went on to found the Mathcounts team at St. Marcus Lutheran School in Milwaukee in 2021, where they also serve as coaches, along with Anand George and Avana Kelly ’25.

Jarvis Castellano was inspired to coach the Mathcounts teams thanks to the coaching she received as a 7th grade student from then-Upper School student Lucia Rondini ’20. “We all looked up to her and we had such a fun time,” said Jarvis Castellano. “I feel like, by coaching, I can do what she did for us.” For several months of the year, Jarvis Castellano and others spend two evenings a week—one at USM and one at St. Marcus Lutheran—coaching.

“Mathcounts trains the mind for difficult problem solving,” said Marcia Mihdawi, parent supervisor. “Making difficult work fun, and encouraging students to build camaraderie in the process, is our goal. These skills will transfer to all future endeavors.”

Students in the Math Counts program pose for a photo.

From left Mairin Jarvis Castellano ’25, Anand George ’26, and Anjali George ’24

For 8th grade student Grace Chen ’27, who has been participating in the program for several years, it’s a fun thing to do after school and a great way to meet students who love math as much as she does. The fact that it’s coached by Upper School students is an added bonus, and something she sees herself doing in the future. “Coaching seems like it could be really fun, and I want to help people the way other people helped me through Mathcounts,” she said.


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